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Fighting Food Insecurity in Communities Where Our Placemakers Work and Live

Food insecurity effects more than 34 million people across the United States, read on to learn more about how ISS is working to mitigate food insecurity in the communities in which we work.

By: Paul Fairhead

ISS Guckenheimer CEO

As the holiday season approaches, many families look forward to spending time together and enjoying traditions like Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. It’s easy to be thankful for a warm meal and home when you’re able to enjoy them. According to the USDA, in the year 2021 nearly 34 million people across the United States lived in food insecure households. According to Feeding America, “food insecurity is defined as a lack of consistent access to enough food for every person in a household to live an active, healthy life.” Unfortunately, 12.5% of those food insecure households are households with children.

With inflation rising and food costs causing some families to worry if they’ll be able to afford holiday meals, everyone should take a moment to reflect and consider ways you can help those who may be going without. ISS and its North American subsidiary ISS Guckenheimer are helping curb food waste and get food to those who truly need it year-round through its food operations across the globe.

Getting Surplus Food to Those in Need

One way that ISS is making a difference is by taking a critical eye to how it deals with excess food in its commercial kitchens. Especially now — with occupancy levels in frequent fluctuation — meeting the food demands of facility users can be a challenge. Unfortunately, that can mean over-producing prepared food. In situations like these, ISS does everything it can to ensure that surplus food is diverted to those in need, rather than going to the landfill.

ISS works to minimize overproduction at the source, but occurrences of surplus are inevitable and managing them an important part of making food operations more sustainable. By partnering with organizations such as Goodr to divert excess food, ISS is able to make a real impact on the communities in which our placemakers live and work.

Goodr offers dashboards that make food waste easily visible to chefs and allows them to adjust production as needed. This technology helps manage surplus that hasn’t reached the receptacle and can still be donated — making ISS’ food sustainability program more effective. Goodr also offers specialized assessments of surplus food in commercial kitchens and helps establish supply chain networks to get excess food to people in need.

"We are proud of the impact our partnership with ISS Guckenheimer is already having on the company and their local community," says Goodr Founder and CEO Jasmine Crowe. "We look forward to continuing our work together to reduce ISS Guckenheimer’s food waste and fight hunger with our technology and logistics.”

ISS also partners with several charitable organizations to distribute surplus food. The program Chefs to End Hunger allows ISS to bring excess food to hungry people. 

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We consider this program and our relationship with Goodr a triple win: we provide nutritious meals to people who need them; lower greenhouse emissions through diverted food that would otherwise end up in landfills; and reduce costs by analyzing data and making iterative improvements to offerings and purchases.”

Paul Fairhead, ISS Guckenheimer CEO

Creating Food Security through Employment

ISS believes in providing opportunities to advance no matter your socioeconomic background. By self-performing much of the services provided. ISS offers opportunities some employees may not have had otherwise. ISS has brought employees in as baristas and helped them train to be engineers — all at the same site and with the same company. Although it may take ambition and effort to become what they want to be, employees that join ISS at the entry level with little or no qualifications have the same opportunity for advancement as someone entering with a college degree.

Innovative Technology that Matches Production with Consumption

One of the first lines of defense in making kitchens more sustainable is minimizing excess food production. ISS chefs achieve this through different strategies that meet the needs of specific clients, real estate portfolios, and operational sites. ISS believes that investing in innovative technologies is one way to help optimize this process to make a greater impact.

Winnow is an artificial intelligence tool that allows commercial kitchens and dining solutions the ability to monitor food waste. As consumers dispose of leftover food, Winnow collects that information by taking pictures and weighing food waste bins. The tool then analyzes the collected data to determine what food is being over produced and not consumed. In turn, ISS food teams can take that information and apply it to their food programs to directly reduce waste.

Since ISS implemented Winnow at numerous client sites, the company has reduced food waste by more than 158,000 pounds — approximately 179,350 meals and 680,100 pounds of CO2 — and saved clients nearly $300,000.

For more information about Winnow and how ISS has made it an important element in food waste management, click here.

Helping Communities Blossom with Compost

In addition to reducing food waste at the source by not over producing, composting is another effective strategy for diverting waste from the landfill. When organic waste goes to landfills — often in plastic bags — it generates methane, a greenhouse gas and major contributor to climate change. When these materials are instead composted, they create a valuable organic material that can be used to grow fresh food. According to the EPA, using organic compost reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.

ISS partners with local municipalities to help contribute organic food waste like vegetable scraps to composting sites rather than sending them to the landfill. These municipalities often provide the compost to residents for free or use it in community gardens and parks. Not only does this reduce waste at individual sites, but it also contributes to healthier communities in which ISS placemakers live and work.  

Committed to Making the World Work Better

ISS understands that getting food on family tables requires much more than what we’ve covered in this short post. We constantly look for innovative ways to help reduce food waste and insecurity.

As a multinational employer with 350,000 placemakers across the globe, ISS has a responsibility to help make the world a better place. We are committed to fulfilling this duty, starting with prioritizing people — whether they are members of our family or the communities in which we operate. Alleviating food insecurity, providing employment, and reducing food waste are just some of the ways ISS is doing its part. Join us and put people first.

About the Author

Paul Fairhead

ISS Guckenheimer CEO